Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 8, 1999
Coughlin served Calgary bishops
By GLEN ARGAN
Carmel Coughlin, long-time executive secretary to retired Calgary Bishop Paul O'Byrne, died recently in Peterborough, Ont.
Coughlin, 69, died Oct. 9, less than two years after she retired at the same time as her long-time boss.
Coughlin was raised on a dairy farm outside of Peterborough, Ont., the seventh of 11 children. Her father died of electrocution when she was 16 and she entered business school to help support the family.
She worked in Toronto and Churchill, Man., before returning to the family farm. On a vacation west with some friends, Coughlin decided to move to Calgary.
She worked with Alberta Coal and was active in the Church. When Bishop Francis Klein decided to hire lay people to work in the chancery office, she applied and became his secretary.
When Klein died, she served under O'Byrne for 29 years until his retirement in early 1998.
A 1998 profile of Coughlin in The Carillon, publication of the Calgary Diocese, said because she was a woman she had to endure "very negative attitudes towards her presence in the office for several years." However, she eventually won the respect of the clergy and the faithful.
While serving as O'Byrne's secretary, Coughlin also edited and wrote for the diocesan publication The Pastoral Reporter.
O'Byrne told the WCR Coughlin was "a very well-loved person. She respected people and she was capable of giving leadership to them and she cultivated them as friends."
The retired bishop paid tribute to her efforts in finding homes for new priests arriving from outside Canada and helping them to get established.
"She also helped other people find an attachment to Christ," he said. "She was a woman of deep faith."
O'Byrne celebrated a memorial service for Coughlin Oct. 13 at St. Mary's Cathedral, her long-time parish. Her funeral was held Oct. 11 in Peterborough.
She is survived by five sisters and four brothers, including Father Leo Coughlin.